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Philippines Mulls Overhauling Modernization Plan After Clashes With China

The Philippine military is considering overhauling its modernization program following a series of controversial maritime clashes with China.

On Sunday, two Chinese coast guard ships rammed Philippine vessels carrying military supplies off a contested shoal. The two countries traded accusations, with Manila saying the clash was “intentional.”

According to Philippine Army Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner, the proposed changes will be aligned with strengthening the country’s territorial and coastal defense amid the escalating tensions in the Indo-Pacific.

The Philippines currently has a 15-year modernization plan divided into three phases: Horizon 1, Horizon 2, and Horizon 3.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro admitted that only 10 percent of Horizon 1 and 53 percent of Horizon 2 have been completed on schedule due to delays caused by budget limitations.

“That is why we have to re-strategize, because the paradigms for Horizon 2 may not be valid anymore,” Teodoro told lawmakers, as quoted by Defense News.

‘Less But More Potent Assets’

The third phase of the modernization plan involves procuring multi-role fighter aircraft, helicopters, radars, missiles, two additional frigates, and submarines.

It also covers the acquisition of BrahMos cruise missiles from India and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, from the US.

According to Defense News, the Horizon 3 requires at least 500 billion Philippine pesos ($8.8 billion), but it is still unclear how Manila will finance it.

Brawner suggested investing in “less but more potent” military assets to boost Manila’s defense capabilities.

Without going into specifics, he said the defense items should align with the nation’s forward-defense strategy aimed at keeping threats as far away as possible.

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